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U.S. Constitution: The Reality Show

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*  Bring your curriculum, your classroom to life
*  Absolutely no musical talent/ability needed!
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CLICK HERE to see Common Core Standards & Vocabulary for this play.
CLICK HERE to read Teacher Reviews for this play.

 

Casting

Flexible casting from 11-40 students.
Use as many delegates, messengers, etc. as desired.
One student can easily play several roles if needed, and
individual roles can be doubles up. Note that all roles
can be played by either boys or girls.

Script

This is the first one-third of the script:

CHARACTERS:

Sally Sassafrass
Bill O'Rights
John Hancock
Samuel Huntington
Ben Franklin
Alexander Hamilton
Big State Delegates
Little State Delegates
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
George Washington
John Jay
Samuel Adams
Messengers
Benedict Arnold
James Monroe
James Madison
George Mason
Internet Celebrity
Two Anoynymous Founding Fathers
John Marshall
Supreme Court Justices
and a CHORUS comprised of all students who are not 
playing roles on stage at the time.

(Entire CLASS faces audience and sings:)

Song 1:    

CLASS:
We the people of the United States, 
in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States
PART of CLASS (echoes): For the United States
for the United States
PART of CLASS (echoes): For the United States
for the United States of America.

We the people of the United States,
in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defense,
promote the general welfare,
and secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and our posterity,
do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States
PART of CLASS (echoes):
For the United States
CLASS: 
For the United States
PART of CLASS (echoes):
For the United States
CLASS: 
For the United States of America
of America
of America.
(SALLY, the HOST, enters and addresses the audience)

SALLY: Welcome to the hit reality show, Back from the Dead. I'm your host, Sally Sassafras. This season we have the most dramatic storyline yet ...historical drama, that is. Our contestants are the actual writers and framers of the Constitution, duking it out to be the last Founding Father standing. Here to go over the rules is my co-host, Bill O'Rights. Bill?

BILL (already halfway across the stage):
Thank you. This year, we've conjured up the Founding Fathers so we can witness the birth of our nation. You know, Sally, I witnessed the birth of my son, and it was really something.

SALLY (embarrassed): Why don't you go on with the rules, Bill?

BILL: He looked just like me, right down to the cone-shaped head. I couldn't have been prouder!

SALLY: The birth of the NATION, Bill?

BILL: Oh, yeah, right. Through a magical process referred to by scientists as (waves his arm majestically)"a magical process" we've revived the creators of the Constitution. Each week we'll be following our Founding Fathers as they explain how they contributed to the making of the Constitution. At the end of each episode, the one individual judged to have been the least important will be sent back into the bleak, pathless oblivion of history. 
(cheery)
Is this gonna be fun or what?

SALLY: Let's get started.
(looking to side of stage)
Here are John Hancock and Samuel Huntington, leaders of the Confederation Congress in the mid-1780s.
(HANCOCK and HUNTINGTON enter)
They're worried they will be held accountable for the Articles of Confederation, the first governing document of the country. It was in effect before the Constitution, and it had some major problems.

(SALLY and BILL exit)

HUNTINGTON: I tell you right now, John, I have no intention of being the scapegoat here.

HANCOCK: Nor do I, Sam. I didn't scrawl my name all over the Declaration of Independence just to be the first person voted off the island.

HUNTINGTON: The island?

HANCOCK: I was speaking metaphorically.

HUNTINGTON: No one can hold us responsible for the weakness of the Articles of Confederation. They've done their job getting the colonies successfully through the Revolutionary War.

HANCOCK: And for 6 years they've given the 13 states some sort of national government.

HUNTINGTON: But we all know the problems: No strong central government; no executive branch; no way to raise money; no federal court system; no way to control state legislatures.

HANCOCK: But it's not our fault! Maybe we can get the other Founders to vote out Ben Franklin. He's 80 years old, out playing with his kite in thunderstorms.

HUNTINGTON: Franklin's crafty---don't underestimate him. I think our best shot is to admit the Articles aren't working and hope we're safe in tonight's vote.


Song 2:    

HUNTINGTON: 
Well I don't want to be too bleak
But congress, folks, is sad and weak
And all of the laws we pass are just a waste of ink

HANCOCK:
We have no way to enforce our acts
We can¹t raise troops and we can't tax
The articles of confederation really stink.

HUNTINGTON and HANCOCK:
This won't do
This won't do
This won't do
Thirteen states without glue
Time we tried 
Something new
The articles of confederation just won't do.

We ask each state to pay its share
But we got zilch from Delaware
And Georgia sent peaches with a note that just said no*

Each state is king so bold and brash
Now every state prints its own cash
The articles of confederation gotta go.

HUNTINGTON, HANCOCK, CHORUS:
This won't do
This won't do
This won't do
Thirteen states without glue
Time we tried 
Something new
The articles of confederation just won't do.
Just won't do
Just won't do.

(THEY exit. ALEXANDER HAMILTON enters, walking across stage reading a document. When HE gets about half-way across the stage, BEN FRANKLIN enters, trying to catch up with HAMILTON. FRANKLIN is a bit slow-footed.)

FRANKLIN: Alex! Alexander Hamilton, slow down a minute!

HAMILTON: Ben Franklin! Just the person I wanted to see. Have you heard the news?

FRANKLIN: What news? Hancock is scheming against me, isn't he? I knew it!

HAMILTON: I don't know about Hancock. But I do have news.

FRANKLIN: Have they finally named a state for me?

HAMILTON: No, not that.

FRANKLIN: A city, then? Congress could at least name a city after me.

HAMILTON: No, Ben, I'm sorry. They're leaning towards Washington.

FRANKLIN: Washington? For a city?

HAMILTON: And maybe a state, too.

FRANKLIN: BOTH? What about me?

HAMILTON: Well, they've named a stove after you.

FRANKLIN: A stove? A STOVE?

HAMILTON: It was either that or a new species of squirrel. But I've got bigger news. 
(waving the paper in his hand; with excitement)
Congress has accepted my proposal to hold a convention.

FRANKLIN: For a new constitution? That's fantastic!

HAMILTON: Well, yes and no. It's not supposed to be for writing a new Constitution. See, Congress has agreed to allow us to organize a convention in Philadelphia next May...
(reads from paper)
. ..for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. They're calling it a "federal" convention.

FRANKLIN: That's ridiculous! We need to throw out the Articles and start over. We need a CONSITUTIONAL convention.

HAMILTON: I know, I know. So here's my plan. We need to form an alliance.

FRANKLIN: Yes, an alliance! Against Hancock! We'll vote him off. Him and that quill.

HAMILTON: Sure, Ben. But first I've got something else in mind. We gather all the best thinkers in the country, pretend we're going to make a few slight changes to the Articles, and then, BLAMMO, we turn it into a brand new constitutional convention.

FRANKLIN: But that would be dishonest. "Honesty is the best policy," I always say.

HAMILTON: They almost named a squirrel after you, Ben.

FRANKLIN (thinks for a moment, then): Good point. Let's write us a Constitution!

Song 3:    

FRANKLIN and HAMILTON:
Congress was very explicit 
Told us what we could do
It is not busted
So just adjust it
A fresh coat of paint ought to do.
Congress wants just a revision
A fix-it up job here and there
We're on a budget
So just retouch it
It doesn't need that much repair.

We said "We concur"
We told them "For sure"
But we think the patient is dead
We are not tinkers
We are great thinkers
So we¹ve go our own plan instead...

We're gonna write us a constitution
Gonna start anew from scratch
Toss out the old that's the real solution
There is nothing left to patch.

We're gonna write us a constitution
Gonna have ourselves some fun
We're gonna have a great institution
When this whole shebang is done!

We¹ve got Washington, Madison, and Hamilton too
Gonna party here all summer long
And though Benjamin Franklin is at least 81
That ol' sucker is still going strong.

FRANKLIN, HAMILTON, and CHORUS:
We're gonna write us a constitution
Gonna start anew from scratch
Toss out the old that's the real solution
There is nothing left to patch.

We¹re gonna write us a constitution
Gonna have ourselves some fun
We¹re gonna have a great institution
When this whole shebang is done!
Done! Done!
(THEY exit. SALLY and BILL enter)

SALLY: Hello again. It's time we met some more of our competitors.

BILL: There are more?

SALLY: All 13 states sent representatives to Philadelphia. Except Rhode Island.

BILL: What's with that?

SALLY: Rhode Island refused to send any delegates.

BILL: I've always been suspicious about Rhode Island.

SALLY: Don't worry about it.

BILL: I mean, it's not even an island.

SALLY: Bill...

BILL: Or a road! It's completely misleading tourists.

SALLY: Let it go, Bill. The other state legislatures elected 74 delegates.

BILL: 74! How many Founding Fathers does one country need?

SALLY: Only 55 attended the meetings in Philadelphia.

BILL: That's still a pretty big pack of patriots. And we¹ve brought them all back to life? What if they go nuts during a challenge and trash the Pennsylvania State House?

SALLY: Independence Hall, as it is now known, will be just fine. By the end of the summer of 1787 only 39 signed the Constitution. And one of them will be the winner of Back from the Dead.

BILL: I hope it's no one from Rhode Island.

SALLY (trying to escort BILL off stage): Let's go, Bill. Here come some more competitors right now.

(THEY exit. FOUR DELEGATES enter. TWO represent Big States; TWO represent Small States.)

BIG STATE#1: We should win this thing easy! We solved the biggest problem of the convention.

LITTLE STATE #1: Too much starch in our wigs?

BIG STATE #2: No! How to make sure both the big states and little states could feel they had a say in a strong national government.

LITTLE STATE #2: I thought you Big States would never give us a congress with an equal number of representatives for each state.

BIG STATE #1: And you Little States weren't exactly thrilled at a congress that gave representatives according to population.

LITTLE STATE #1: We were awesome!
(pause)
Uh, how'd we solve it?

BIG STATE #2: Weren't you there when we came up with the two-house compromise?

LITTLE STATE #1: Well, yeah. But I couldn't hear anything.

LITTLE STATE #2: Why not?

LITTLE STATE #1: I had too much starch in my wig.

Song 4:    

LARGE STATES: Small states all they did was shout

SMALL STATES: We just wanted our share but the
Big states tried to squeeze us out

LARGE STATES: That would only be fair!

ALL FOUR (pointing at each other):

They said blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
It drove me out of my mind
They said blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
I never thought we would find

The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise.

Then we came up with a scheme
Congress split into two houses
Neither one of them supreme
One each for me and you!

House of Representatives
It gave the big states a break
Then we made a Senate too
It got the small states to make

The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise.

(BIG STATES and SMALL STATES do the Congressional
Dance. Basically, they can run around in delight and then 
shake hands. )

LARGE STATES, SMALL STATES, CHORUS:

The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise
The Great Compromise.

(This concludes the first one-third of the script.)

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